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One of the most enjoyable and successful lessons I teach to primary age
children is the paper quilt unit, devised originally to be a sort of
composite mural and first lesson in how to sew.
We begin with a discussion of what a quilt is, and what it is like. We
look at exemplars particularly those made with square patches.
Each child is given a 9" square of tagboard for the patch. The quilt
requires a theme, media, and color scheme. You can also introduce
symmetry, color theory, geometric design, etc.
When the squares are finished I punch holes approximately 1" apart on
all sides using an adjustable three hole punch. The squares should be
arranged in a pleasing design to form a large square or rectangular
quilt. Sometimes I need to add a "made by..." square or 2 to complete
Sewing is completely new to half of my 1st graders, and the other half
know how to do the running stitch.. We whip the edges together.
Using yarn, tie the first two squares together through the first set of
holes. The edges of the squares should butt together, not overlap. I
have two children stand in front of their squares. The child to the
left is the "holder"--he holds the patches side by side so they don't
slide around and confuse the sewing child. Using a large plastic needle
(teach them how to re-thread it) the "sewer" starts by going "in" the
hole on his patch and "out" the hole on the holder's patch. They say to
themselves, "In mine and out Jason's". The needle is always pointing
towards the left.
When they have sewn through all the holes connecting those two patches,
the next pair of students are called and they continue in the same way,
using the same needle and yarn as the first pair. When the yarn gets
too short for sewing, I simply tie on another piece to the short end
(the knots don't show much) and they continue.
Sometimes as many as five needles are sewing at once. Soon the quilt is
fairly stable and the "holder" isn't needed. The final touch is to
overcast the edges -- "down the holes".
All your time will be spent with the small group of sewing students, so
the rest of the class needs to have an activity to work on that doesn't
require your assistance. Some ideas: a mini quilt in another medium;
another patch in the same medium for children with ideas they want to
develop. Sewing the average quilt takes 3 half-hour periods.
When the quilt is complete there are oohs and ahhs--even applause! It
is a good group project because everyone's work is equally important to
the whole quilt.
I hope this helps. Jeannie in PA
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